Walker Jones' Saber Article
September/October 2001


Hello REAL CAV! I'm proud to announce that a great honor has been bestowed upon two distinguished members of the 1/9th Cav (Vietnam Era). COL Pete BOOTH (Ret.) <longknife6@hotmail.com> sent me clippings from the Mar-Apr '01 issue of Army Aviation announcing the induction into the Aviation Hall of Fame of Dr. (COL) Hal KUSHNER (Ret.) and LTC George L. O'GRADY (Ret.). Pete wished to remind us all that among the hundreds of thousands who have served in Army Aviation over the years, only 100 have been recognized by induction into the Hall of Fame. That's amazing. There is not enough room to transcribe their complete citations, but a portion follows:

"ALTC George L. O'GRADY excelled both on the battlefield and in combining his combat experience and engineering talent to improve equipment. On his first tour he commanded the Cobras, the gun platoon of the 114th Assault Helicopter Company. Almost daily, the Cobras were committed to air assaults into base areas at night to protect villages and outposts under attack. The Cobras became so well known their call sign was given to the Army's first attack helicopter. On his second tour he commanded B Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry ... His heroism was recognized by many awards, including three Silver Stars, four DFCs, 2 Bronze Stars and 2 Presidential Unit Citations. Between and following his combat tours, he drafted the Army's first field manual on A Gunnery, helped set up the first instrumented helicopter firing range at Ft. Rucker and established the first door gunner training program. Hardware innovations were a constant during O'GRADY's aviation career." He designed an amazing array of innovations including the flight helmet shield to block flare light, conducted classified work on the Hellfire missile, and a microphone sensing system to detect a hostile fire. "This master Army aviator had 5,000 flight hours, of which 1,900 were combat." We're all real proud of you, George!

"Dr. KUSHNER volunteered to be Flight Surgeon for the 1-9th. As flight surgeons should, he flew numerous combat missions…. On Nov. 30, 1967, on a night flight in a driving rainstorm, the helicopter crashed. Recovering consciousness in the burning, inverted helicopter, he freed himself despite a broken left wrist and collarbone and seven broken teeth. While trying to free the pilot, he was hit in the neck and shoulders by exploding ammunition and his hands and buttocks were burned. The pilot was dead, the crew chief was sent for help and was later found shot by the enemy and the copilot, mortally injured in the crash, died the third day. He then left the crash site and was fed by a peasant who later turned him over to an enemy squad. He was shot in the neck because he was unable to lift his splinted broken arm when ordered to surrender. Thus began the tortuous hell of five and a half years as the only medical doctor captured in the Vietnam War. Tired and beaten, wounded and sick and without boots, he trekked through the mountains. He was held in a series of jungle camps for over three years. In 1971, with the other survivors, he walked 900 km to Vinh; was loaded on a train of cattle cars with thousands of South Vietnamese prisoners and moved the final 180 km to Hanoi. Conditions on Hanoi's jails were bad, but better than in the jungle camps, where prisoners suffered from jungle diseases and starvation. Twelve of the 27 U.S. prisoners died, some because it was too hard to live. They slept on a large pallet of bamboo where the sick vomited, defecated and urinated on the common bed and other prisoners. KUSHNER was offered a better life working in a hospital; he refused. He was forbidden to practice medicine, but a great personal risk found ways to alleviate suffering and save lives. A fellow prisoner, Frank ANTON, said: "Kushner never quit; attempting always to motivate us to keep fighting, keep trying". Another, David HARKER, said: "Dr. KUSHNER never lost his will to practice medicine. In the end he would simply hold dying prisoners in his arms and saw them through to the other side. It was a terrible experience but some good came from it. I learned about the human spirit. I learned about loyalty to your country and its ideals - to put your friends and comrades first."

Dr. KUSHNER was guest speaker at the 1st Cav Assn. reunion at Ft. Hood in '99, and those in attendance were graced with the eloquence of his humble portrayal of those times. I'll never forget it. I'd like to add that 1LT Griffith B. BEDWORTH, B Trp, MAJ Stephen R. PORCELLA, HHT, and SSG Kenneth D. MCKEE, B Trp., died as a result of that crash. The current 1/9th Dispensary at Ft. Hood is slated to be dedicated to Dr. KUSHNER, probably this October. It is unusual for an Army building to be dedicated to a living person. Thanks Hal, for staying alive. Folks like you and George make us all proud.

Sam DIXON mentioned us in his last H/75th Ranger SABER column in the last issue. Co. H (Ranger) 75th Infantry (Airborne) Webmaster, Bruce JUDKINS <exitexit@hotmail.com> has provided sustained contact, working to resolve some facts pertaining to several incidents that the 1/9th pilots and crews were involved with during LRRP insertions and extractions. Related to this, Ron CHRISTOPHER mailed me some copies of official correspondence of Co. E, 52nd Infantry (LRP) prepared in March, '68 from 1LT MARTINDALE, and then more than a year later from CPT George PACCERELLI, which composed his farewell to his LRRP's, listing H/75th's accomplishments. Although the 1/9th and the Cav's LRRP/Rangers were the "eyes and ears" of the Division, I'd not known that on 1 Oct.'68, E/52d Infantry (LRRP) was officially attached to the 1/9th. Robert MACDONALD, Sqdn G-2, '70-71, (POB 19852, Alexandria, VA 22320), wrote that the LRRPs and Tracker Dog teams were under G-2 control during '70-71. He also said that only the 1/9th were authorized to wear Stetsons. If COL. STOCKTON started the "Cavalry Hat" thing in the Army again, when were other units authorized? I also see Cav hats on all kinds of non-Cav heads at reunions. MACDONALD also served with the Cav in Korea in '60-61.

MAJ "Howie BREWINGTON, XO, 1/9th at Ft. Hood <Howie.Brewington@hood.army.mil> sent a detailed report on recent training activities, with several photos. I can only relate a fraction here. The Battalion qualified in all Inf. Sqd. and Plt. Live fire exercises, qualified all M2A2 ODS Bradley Crews, qualified all plts by conducting Platoon Qualification Table. 1st Plt, D Co was "high plt." Battalion Battle Staff and Co. COs conducted the FORSCOM Leader Trng at Fort Irwin, CA. The Battalion conducted an awards ceremony on 03 Aug. and recognized the crews that qualified "distinguished" and the "top platoon" during gunnery training. Wish there was space for half their activities! I'll continue to update what the "new" 1/9th will be doing in future columns.


1st Squadron, 9 Cavalry Battalion Award Winners, August 2001, Ft. Hood


Misc: Jim SHEATHELM, (1530 Beardsley Ave., Muskegon, MI 49441), wrote that B Trp MOH winner Robert I. POXON has his uniform and MOH on display at Michigan's Own Museum in Franenmuth. Fellow SABER correspondent Ed CARTY, 99th FA BN News, wrote to report a Reunion Cruise set for 4/29-5/4 '02 and reports other Unit are interested, turning it into a "First Cavalry Cruise Ship", with Unit reunion events on board. Sounds like fun! Andrew TEAGUE, (POB 192, Taylorsville, NC 28681), wants a copy of Bert CHOLE's <bchole@vvm.com> Historical Summary, 1/9th, 1st Cav Div. Heard from Bob BEAN, A '70 <w1rlb@mpinet.net> after noting he'd bought a photo on eBay of a C Trp slick with Blues exiting.

Sick Bay: Jim BLACK's wife Betty reported that her husband, B, C Blues & DG, '67-'68, '72-'73, <headhunters9@earthlink.net> underwent an angioplasty but is now doing fine. Joe KELBUS, A Blues, '67-'68,( Camelia Ln, Orland Park, IL 60462, 708-460-3457), had a kidney transplant. He looks forward to the next BWS reunion! Both Dave SHANKLIN, B '65 <DShan10670@aol.com> and his long time bud, Jim REID, C '65 <sreid@gate.net> are recovering from serious surgeries. Also, hello to former D Trooper Joseph ZANCO. The daughter of "Keith" BALL, C Trp CO, '70-'71, Penne FUNK <Penne02@cfl.rr.com>, reports that her dad had a heart attack but is OK.

Stay well, guys. "We Can, We Will!